Sunday, 28 February 2010
New Year Lilies
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010
No, this isn't a reference to collage (although if you read the last post you could be forgiven for thinking that it was!), but to the fact that for several weeks I had a painting on the go which I couldn't finish - no, let's be absolutely clear here - I could barely start. Back in January I was given some beautiful lilies which sat in a vase on my windowsill looking like the perfect subject for a painting, with the wintry light slanting through the window behind. I was too busy to get the paints out then and there, so took some photos, put them on my inspirations board and let them simmer for a bit.
My first dilemma was the composition. Did I want to paint a vase of lilies? one lily? abstract lilies? portrait or landscape? I'm not used to being that indecisive. Eventually I decided on a landscape format - no vase - and found enough time to lay down the background wash. The colours I could see through the window were blue, yellow and green so I used ultramarine and indian yellow and lots of water so they ran into each other, and left it to see how things would turn out (see above pic) . When it dried I put in the slanting light with a sponge.
And then - nothing. A fortnight passed with no inkling of what to do next. Eventually in desperation I decided to treat it as though I were on a life painting course (the one where my tutor told me I was using watercolour like pastels), and blocked in the lilies with alizarin crimson, adding highlights of titanium white.
So far, so good. I added some leaves and stems and stamens but it wasn't right; I'd forgotten the shadows. I still didn't like it, so I painted over the background with an ultramarine wash and - hey presto! - it came together. I could even see the slanting light through the wash.
In summary, then: time spent thinking about painting: four weeks; time spent looking glumly at the background wash: two weeks; time spent completing the painting: 90 minutes. It's a funny old world . . .!